Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy for hematologic malignancies is fraught with several unknowns, including number of functional T cells that engage target tumor, durability and subsequent expansion and contraction of that engagement, and whether toxicity can be managed. Non-invasive, serial imaging of CAR T cell therapy using a reporter transgene can address those issues quantitatively. We have transduced anti-CD19 CAR T cells with the prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) because it is a human protein with restricted normal tissue expression and has an expanding array of positron emission tomography (PET) and therapeutic radioligands. We demonstrate that CD19-tPSMA(N9del) CAR T cells can be tracked with [18F]DCFPyL PET in a Nalm6 model of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Divergence between the number of CD19-tPSMA(N9del) CAR T cells in peripheral blood and bone marrow and those in tumor was evident. These findings underscore the need for non-invasive repeatable monitoring of CAR T cell disposition clinically.
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